By Akin Osuntokun
If any other indication of the corruption-ridden nature of this governmental dispensation is needed, this can be inferred from the conduct of the Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States’ elections. Beyond other atrocious manipulations, the attribute that stood clearly to be counted by observers in those dress rehearsal elections, was the unanimity of opinion on the distinct and unprecedented subversion of the election by outright vote buying. Intuitively and analytically, the generalization can be made from this typical behavior that there is a positive correlation between pervasive vote buying and the degree of corruption in public life. In other words, the greater the degree of corruption in public life, especially governmental corruption, the more pervasive the incidence of outright vote purchase. By the same token, the lesser the degree of corruption in public life, the less pervasive will be the subversive role of the highest bidder culture.
Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, President of Women Arise for Change Initiative, one of the observer groups in Ekiti, said: “the incidences of vote buying and inducement became so prominent than it has never been during the Ekiti governorship election…This portends a great danger, not only to our electoral process, but also to democracy as a whole…It will simply mean that the choice of leadership will no longer be on the basis of programmes or party manifestos but rather, the highest bidder on election days, no matter how incompetent.” “Nwagwu pointed out that politicians used to go to the homes of voters to bribe them and sometimes administered oaths on them to get their votes. He said that the difference in the case of Ekiti was that there were voters willing to sell their votes to party agents ready to pay the highest price within the vicinity of election area”.
“The activities in Ekiti and other states is worrying the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and International Republican Institute (IRI) both of the U.S. which have warned that vote buying and insecurity constituted a threat to the 2019 general elections…It also heard repeated frustrations about the continued role that money plays in Nigerian politics, from how candidates are selected to how parties seek to influence voters. Mr. Jan Surotchak, Regional Director for Europe, IRI, said that the Ekiti election witnessed vote buying which raised concern among Nigerians and added: `Vote buying is a frightening development in elections”.
The political adviser to President Mohammadu Buhari, Babafemi Ojudu, lent Participant-observer credence to this degenerate situation in his condemnation of the APC governorship primaries in the run up to the governorship election proper earlier in the year, he said “Dr Kayode Fayemi during his declaration vowed that he was ready to use every underhand means to secure the ticket but our people have come out to say a resounding NO! No amount of intimidation, brigandage and crude display of wealth will stop the people’s will to install a fresh hand in our state”.
Given this inclusive and specific antecedence, it stretches the imagination beyond credulity for the same individual who bore witness to the role of his own party in this degenerate situation bastardisation to now presume to sanctify and separate the party presidential candidate from the same culture it has, more than any predecessor, come institutionalise. The lesson to learn from its own prior conduct on what constitutes a winning formula in Nigerian elections is not probity and integrity but the exact opposite. Begging the question-on what pedestal and track record do the APC and Buhari stand to project their platform as the exception to the cash and carry rule it has instituted-going forward to the 2019 elections? Where is the logical and consistent thread from the conduct of APC in the previous state elections to the shameless hypocritical posturing of advertising itself as the harbinger of public probity in the consequential 2019 elections? The particularly worrisome dimension to this persistent penchant for making claims that are wildly at variance with reality is the party wide adoption of duplicitous double talk as party trademark. And so it came as no surprise when the mostly silent political adviser to the President, Babafemi Ojudu typically embarked on this flight of fancy:
“Quote me: the coming presidential election will be the cheapest ever in the history of our country.
“This government will not loot the treasury or empty the Central Bank to buy votes. Money meant for arms will not be diverted to buy prayers from pastors and Alfas. INEC officials are not going to be paid to manipulate figures in favour of the president and his party. Security men will do their job as stipulated by the terms of their engagement. Above all, voters will be allowed to vote according to the dictates of their conscience. About this time in 2015, the nation was awash with cash, both in local and foreign currencies. Money meant for arms, for infrastructural development and for the provision of good life for the people was diverted and shared out among the big shots in the ruling party. A bit of it trickled down to the people and everyone had a big party”.
Like a guerrilla army, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is surfacing in market places, doing street walks and entering the homes of the disadvantaged and listening to their challenges, gets firsthand information on what is important as valuable to them. Like a guerilla army indeed! What an apt metaphor for the political insurgency and electoral subversion inherent in the tradermoni scam and similar clever by half gimmicks of a desperate vice president sneaking around foodstuff markets and motor parks. `
The problem with this crass display of a rough and ready willingness to pretend that facts and logic don’t exist or matter is the general applicability of the same character flaw to the rank and file of the APC and the Buhari government. It is a disposition that has come to define the conduct of the APC and its presidential standard bearer whose clumsy affectation of the illusion of grandeur only serves to confirm his status as a falling angel-if ever he was mistaken for one. Take for example the debacle of the fictive catalogue of achievements in his budget presentation at the national assembly. On the penchant of this president to play fast and loose with facts and figures here is the testimony of a self-confessed disciple of President Buhari by name Dr Aliyu Tilde:
“The 150 km Bauchi-Gombe road, which I have been using for 44 years now and my vehicle plies every 10 days, is an example. Its rehabilitation was awarded in 2016. When I used it two months ago, only about 7 km was resurfaced, that little too was just outside Alkaleri towards Gombe, a portion that has been a smooth ride for decades, leaving the 60 km where urgent rehabilitation is needed between Alkaleri and Bauchi. I have the pictures in case anyone would deny it. Today, his government couldn’t achieve more than resurfacing 7 km in two and a half years, that too came after protests from Bauchi. What else can better depict the incompetence of his government?
“There are many projects awarded since 2016 which have not taken off to date. This is not Buhari my mentor… He is PMB who abandoned his life-long principles for cheap political gains, whose party is impatiently threatening to beat the record of PDP in corruption and deceit in just four, instead of 16 years. A figure that until then I literally idolised since 1975 for his integrity is today condoning the corruption taking place right under his nose and in far-away places like Kano, cases proven by victims and journalists beyond the reasonable doubt of anyone with an iota of sincerity and goodwill for this country, allegations his conscience must have told him are true, cases that his EFCC has shamefully failed to take any action on, cases that are daily destroying every bit of his image as Mr. Integrity…The APC today has, with its poor performance and record of corruption, emboldened the PDP that it devastated in 2015 with abusive language, claims and promises. As a ruling party today, this arsenal is depleted. It is now a case of the kettle calling the pot black.”
Another random check on the authenticity of the enumerated phantom achievements the Buhari government resulted in this report from Ebele Goodluck…”In his 2019 budget presentation today at the National Assembly, President Buhari listed Ogwashi-Uku Dam amongst other projects completed and/or commissioned by his administration in 2018. Mr. President, this is a fat lie from the pit of hell, Sir. Ogwashi-Uku is my hometown, and where the dam is located is my village. I can tell you for a fact that no government official has set foot on that project since the beginning of your administration. The road leading to the dam has since cut into two and has become hazards to motorists, bikers and pedestrians. I swiftly reached out to the LG chairman, Chief Isaac Anwuzia to know if the DAM project was miraculously completed and commissioned between last night and this morning. The LG chairman categorically said the project was abandoned since 2015.”
And another disappointed erstwhile promoter of Buhari summed up as follows-“It took only months for Buhari to be unveiled not as the lion he claimed to be, but as a deeply-flawed Nigerian politician who would not have been out of place in the PDP. If WAI was in 1984 thought to be indicative of hope, Buhari has dimmed every flicker, as everything is being re-interpreted and regurgitated by people who fly the world in government airplanes they had said were anachronistic and wasteful. They measure achievement in propaganda mileage… But this is really another illustration of how a government that arrived with the best opportunity since independence has reduced itself to the sorriest and soggiest. Buhari advocates like to raise the flag of “integrity,” one they cannot substantiate. But integrity is when whom you are, is found to be whom you said you were, and credibility is when you are still standing when you are found out. It remains true that PDP is wrong for Nigeria. But so is APC, and certainly Buhari, and Buhari himself knows it. To suggest otherwise is to support Nigeria’s continued decay.”